China on my Mind
Helen Howells, Joint MD of Hoho Entertainment reveals her ambitions for working in the Chinese market and how she plans to get there.
I sighed heavily and asked myself: “Was it really going to be worth it?” Here I was desperately shovelling coins into a machine and pressing buttons manically trying to print out yet another letter before the computer and indeed the ’booth” would say ‘no’ again at 3.00 p.m. at which point I would have to go home and come back in the morning and take another number!
What was I up to? Well quite simply (or not as it turns out) trying to apply for a visa at the Chinese Visa Centre. This was the 3rd (yes 3rd) time in less than a week I had rocked up trying to sort out my paperwork for a much-anticipated trip to CICAF, the biggest animation festival in China, courtesy of the Children’s Media Conference, UK DIT and the lovely Maggie Liang of The Media Pioneers.
As an independent production and distribution company we’ve worked with studios and broadcasters all over the world, including many in Asia, but I had never been to China. We had started trying to get into the Chinese market with our existing programmes around 18 months ago but found it very challenging due to rules, regulations, quotas etc. So we enlisted the help of industry expert Maggie to help navigate our way through. When Greg invited me to participate in a group of speakers CMC was taking to the CICAF conference, which would also allow time for meetings at the Festival’s market, I jumped at the chance. Having already done several meetings with Chinese companies during MIPCOM I had come to recognise the importance of being able to meet with studios, broadcasters and distributors face to face.
We’re now less than a month from travelling and despite the “minor paperwork frustrations” I’m really looking forward to being part of this delegation. It will be a wonderful opportunity to present Hoho Entertainment and fully explore ways of working together on existing and new projects through a UK/Chinese co-production. We are already underway with 2 projects and I really hope that this trip will help finalise those discussions while also giving us the opportunity to offer our services as producer and international distributor to Chinese studios who are looking for partners to work on their projects and bring them to a truly global audience.
zàijiàn – for now!